Numlock News: February 7, 2020 • Swipe Right, WWE, Kodak

By Walt Hickey

Have an outstanding weekend! Enjoy the Oscars, check the Numlock Awards newsletter for final predictions this weekend. If this email is appearing in a Gmail promotions tab or sent to spam, just drag it back into your inbox, filters get antsy after I write about DTC companies like Casper.

Man Alive He Is Broken In Half

The WWE is having a rough 2020, with its stock down 30 percent over the course of the new year. Thursday the company’s earnings report arrived like The Shockmaster, and the company’s stock declined 10 percent amid difficulties across almost all of the roadshow’s business lines. The wrestling company said it had a 10 percent drop in subscribers to its streaming service to 1.42 million, and while revenue was up to $322 million for the quarter, analysts had been expecting about $11 million more. Revenue for WWE live events is down 20 percent to $27.4 million, though North American attendance was up 15 percent.

Cynthia Littleton, Variety

Swiping Right

A new survey from the Pew Research Center shows just how ascendant dating apps have become in a short time: 23 percent of U.S. adult respondents said they’d gone on a date as a result of online dating, and 12 percent of respondents said that they had been in a committed relationship or married as a result of dating sites or apps. That’s up from 11 percent of adults who had used an app in 2013 and just 3 percent who had a relationship or married because of it. Among those 18 to 29, 48 percent had used a dating app and 17 percent had been in a relationship with someone they met on an app. Respondents who identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual were nearly twice as likely as straight respondents to have said they’d gone online to date. Altogether, 22 percent of Americans think online dating has had a positive effect on dating and relationships — I’m in this group, it’s how I met my boyfriend — while 26 percent said it’s mostly negative — my boyfriend’s in this group, it’s the worst thing that ever happened to him.

Monica Anderson, Emily A. Vogels and Erica Turner, Pew Research Center

Feeling Pretty Good Right Now

A new survey from Gallup finds that the American people, after a bumpy road and terrible decisions, have mostly finally gotten their crap together. The survey — taken over the past forty years — asks “In general, are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the way things are going in your personal life at this time,” and in the most recent edition 90 percent of respondents said yeah, things are going alright at this time, Gallup. That beat the previous best of 88 percent notched in 2003, when Americans last really had a good grip on juggling romance, recreation, and just, like, their life, man. A follow-up question introduced in 2001 asking, effectively, “really? how much though?” found 65 percent were “very” satisfied, another all-time high. The happiest? People making over $100,000 per year, 96 percent of whom are satisfied.

Justin McCarthy, Gallup

Film

Eastman Kodak, once bankrupt, has been making something of a comeback in Hollywood as proponents of shooting movies on film rather than digital stake out a niche for their work. This year, four of the films nominated for Best PictureOnce Upon a Time in Hollywood, Little Women, The Irishman and Marriage Story — were shot on film rather than digitally. Kodak made $7 million in the first nine months of 2019 from motion picture film sales. Last year the company sold more 65-millimeter film than ever before, bound for Imax screens and movies like the forthcoming Bond film No Time to Die. Digital has consumed the industry, rising from a rarity in 2002 to a majority in 2012, and by 2018 91 percent of the most commercially successful films were shot on digital.

Christopher Palmeri, Bloomberg

Hangers

U.S. consumption of wire hangers is estimated to be about 3.3 billion wire hangers per year, or roughly 11 per capita, about 80 percent of which comes via dry cleaners and the rest of which mostly comes from uniform rental services. Namely, it’s a ubiquitous, low-quality product that functionally nobody pays for. The oldest domestic company that makes wire hangers is M&B, but in the early 2000s Chinese companies began to flood the market. From 2005 to 2007, imports of China’s wire hangers jumped from 1 billion per year to 2.7 billion, a rise from 36 percent market share to 81 percent, but a Bush-era tariff crushed the business and just 25.9 million came from China in 2018. They now come from elsewhere, like Taiwan and Vietnam, to the tune of 1.45 billion per year.

Dan Greene, Vox

Budget

A new study tries to get at the heart of why some movies do better than others, and if — as studios sometimes suggest — movies do worse when they star women or minorities. Analyzing the top-grossing films of the year, the study did find some inequities on the production side: movies with white male leads had a median production budget of $52 million, while those with minority male leads had $38.5 million, white female leads $31.3 million and minority female leads $19.2 million. That trend held for print and advertising costs, as well as the number of international markets studios placed the films in. But when accounting for those asymmetries in resources, the race or gender of the lead was found to have no significant bearing on the financial outcomes of the films, busting that myth.

Katie Kilkenny, The Hollywood Reporter

Well, Actually

California is covered with thousands of defunct oil and gas wells, and companies haven’t set aside enough money to properly cap them. Some 35,000 wells are idle, half of which haven’t pumped anything in over a decade. Fossil fuel companies are legally required to post bonds to ensure their wells are eventually remediated, but those funds are completely inadequate in California: looking at the seven largest drillers (which account for 75 percent of wells) the average amount set aside was $230 per well they have to decommission. The average per-well cost of dismantling is $40,000 to $152,000 depending on the area. All told, companies have furnished $110 million to clean up the state’s wells when it will cost a projected $6 billion to do the job. That doesn’t even account for offshore wells, which will cost a few further billion. People experience degraded air quality within 600 feet of an unplugged well; 350,000 Californians live within that distance.

Mark Olalde and Ryan Menezes, The Los Angeles Times and Center for Public Integrity

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